Australian Institute of Criminology

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Firearm theft in Australia 2008–09

Media Release

31 October 2011

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) today released the 2008-09 National Firearm Theft Monitoring report.
Since 2004–05, the number of firearms reported stolen has risen by six percent each year. In 2008-09 a total of 1,570 firearms were stolen in 620 reported incidents from all Australian states and territories, excluding Western Australia.

Approximately half of all reported thefts involved multiple firearms, and rifles accounted for the majority of all those stolen.

Ninety-one percent of firearms reported stolen were registered at the time of the theft and firearms from 14 percent of theft incidents were recovered. In 2008–09, 24 percent of those who reported a firearm stolen had not been compliant with storage requirements.

Firearms stolen in three percent of theft incidents were later involved in the commission of an offence or found in the possession of an individual charged with a serious criminal offence.

The majority of firearm thefts (89%) followed an unlawful entry of a residential or business premises or a vehicle; however, private residential premises were the primary target for theft (77% of all thefts). This finding mirrored the previous four years of monitoring. In 63 percent of incidents, firearms had been stored in a safe or locked receptacle.

Firearms transported in vehicles were found to be especially vulnerable to theft. This was because vehicles were significantly more likely  than residential or businesses premises to be unlocked at the time of the theft, and the firearms themselves tended not to be secured within the vehicle.

This program has collected information on all incidents of firearm theft reported to Australian state and territory police for the years 2004–05 to 2008–09 and describes the nature and characteristics of firearm theft that was reported to police in the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.

The Report’s author, AIC senior analyst Dr Samantha Bricknell said: “Modifying current provisions around firearm storage may be one option that law enforcement agencies may adopt in seeking to further reduce the incidence of firearm theft.

“Another approach may involve situational crime prevention – to make it even harder for an offender to successfully steal a firearm, by increasing the risks and reducing the rewards. This may take the form of strengthening formal surveillance, better concealment of firearms, use of property identifiers and strategies to assist compliance.”

AIC media contact: Colin Campbell 02 6260 9244 / 0418 159 525